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Lucy Saunders
4230 N. Oakland #178
Shorewood WI
53211 USA
@ site name

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Hop Luck Dinners at Tyranena Brewing Co.
Lake Mills, Wisconsin

It's a craft beer twist on a neighborly Midwestern tradition: Tyranena Brewing Co. offers a "hopluck" dinner at the tasting room. Just bring a covered dish to pass and you'll get a free pint to sip - the only catch is the cook has to make the dish "legendary" by incorporating one of Tyranena's brews as an ingredient.

Fortunately, with more than 9 brews on tap at Tyranena's tasting room, and growlers to go priced at $6.50, this is not a difficult task. Blackhawk presides over Tyranena's taps

Tyranena calls its brews "legendary" because it is based in one of the sacred places of Wisconsin - Lake Mills is a village where folklore and Indian tales give new meaning to local flavor. For example, the Bitter Woman IPA is named after a jilted sweetheart of the poet Longfellow; her bitterness increased over the decades along with his fame. Shantytown Doppelbock gets its moniker from the huts used for winter ice fishing that line Rock Lake, while the Blackhawk Porter is named after an Indian chief (pictured, hovering over the taps, at right).

But I think the hospitality at Tyranena's tasting room deserves to be legendary, too.

One of the few smoke-free tasting rooms in the state, it is a family friendly environment, with an outdoor beer garden, grills set up for BBQ, and gorgeous landscaping with golden Aureus hops vines to set the mood. When I stopped in, there were several families already seated, with Scrabble games underway to amuse the young guests.Sampling at the hop luck dinner

Dishes included a spicy tofu and veggie kabob glazed with a peanut ale sauce served over rice; hot potatoes cooked with Maibock; brown ale beer bread and others. Several standouts were the moist Brown Ale Marinated smoked turkey brought by Pam and Karl Vonderhohe, as well as Teri Nelson's drunken cabbage loaded with bacon, caraway, onions and "all the things you'd like to taste in a cabbage dish," according to beercook Nelson.

Diners also loved the grilled Bacon-wrapped Fiery Shrimp from beercook and homebrewer Kerri Canepa, who marinated the large shrimp in Vietnamese chili paste and the Bitter Woman IPA.

Grant Carlson , who handles both marketing and some brewing tasks at Tyranena, came up with the concept. "I did some searching on the web and no one had done this before at a microbrewery," Grant says. "It was a little brainchild of mine that people seem to really enjoy and I have called it our HopluckT Dinner. The quality of the food and the adventurousness of the participant's choices have been impressive. At our last HopluckT Dinner we had everything from a Bitter Woman IPA Vindaloo and Spicy Peanut Soup to a "kicked up" crusted Chicken w/ Fiery Fighting Finches Mai Bock Sauce and a Stout Sauerkraut Chocolate Fudge Cake."

Tyranena's 30-barrel brewhouse (made by Sprinkmann) produced about 1200 barrels of beer last year, and production will increase by another 40 percent this year, Grant predicts. Distribution is in Wisconsin only - from Rhinelander to the north to Milwaukee to the east and LaCrosse to the west. "Our company growth is based on our own beer sales," Grant says, "because our owner and head brewer Rob Larson wants to focus on building up our year-round products." There are now five bottled brands in distribution: Ancient Aztalan Brown Ale, Stone Tepee Pale Ale, Headless Man Amber Alt, Blackhawk Porter and Bitter Woman IPA. Seasonals include a marzen Oktoberfest, black stout, honey wheat ale, maibock and doppelbock.Grant

Just about all the Hopluck dinner participants hoisted their brews in the specially made stone mugs produced at a Cambridge, WI wood-fired pottery studio. "Each year, Larson gets a different design made, and we get to take our mugs home," explained a guest. I took home a growler instead - and felt lucky to have had the Hop Luck experience at Tyranena.

From the newsletter, here's the deal: Here is our "Hopluck Dinner" in a nutshell. The Hopluck Dinner is a fun and creative twist on a traditional potluck dinner. You bring a favorite dish to share with the masses or at least a few fellow beer lovers. All we ask is that you make your dish "Legendary" by using Tyranena beer as an ingredient. We supply the dishware, eating utensils and ambiance. Hopluck Dinners are held on the second Thursday of each month, they begin at 6:30 p.m and go till the food is gone. E-mail our Beer Ambassador with any questions at grant@tyranena.com, Tyranena Brewing Co., 1025 Owen Street Lake Mills, Wisconsin, 53551 Telephone: (920) 648-8699


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